Transparency

Put on a Guy Fawkes Mask, Bring Transparency Back to Texas

|

The empire never ended.

You may have heard that the hackers at Anonymous have exposed what they say are internal emails from dozens of Texas police agencies. If you missed the story, here's a quick refresher course from the Daily Mail:

In one email to a senior Texas police official…it was written: 'That stupid b**** who started that stolen car chase at Yale and 610 got what she deserved (I'll bet she was fat and black too).

'Same with that pervert that got shot by the county. F*** that guy, see ya. That all sounds like good police work to me.

'Those folks got the criminal cure. It's guaranteed, they will never commit a crime again.'

Other emails contained offensive theories about Muslim inbreeding and the details of complaints of a police officer's affair with a married woman.

Now Scott Henson, author of the excellent civil liberties blog Grits for Breakfast, has chimed in with some relevant historical background:

Back in the good old days before the Texas Supreme Court and the Legislature gutted access to law-enforcement information under the Public Information Act ('96-'97), one saw frank discussions like these in response to open records requests fairly frequently, up to and including expressions of racial prejudice, etc.. But the state has so diminished the public's access to law-enforcement records that now departments can usually screen such embarrassing tidbits by claiming they don't exist, pretending they're part of an ongoing investigation, or simply dropping charges in a particular case, since the public now only has access to information in cases resulting in a conviction.

"In that environment," Henson concludes, "a hacker group like Anonymous is probably the only way to expose such dirty little secrets. Twenty years ago virtually all this information would be public."

Advertisement

NEXT: Taxation Without Representation

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Here is the sorry reality. Most people are going to read those emails and agree with them. It may shock libertarian journalists. But it won’t shock anyone else.

    1. Possibly. But if people agree with them why not make them automatically public?

      1. Agreed. People may secretly agree, but if they also don’t want to own up to it, then that says something.

        1. It just says that we put a PC veneer on what we actually think.

          1. What happened to, “As long as they’re getting paid by the taxpayer we have a right to see everything they email on government owned machines”?

            1. I’m down. I might make an exception for active investigations, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

            2. Those emails totally should be made public. I am just saying don’t be disappointed when very few people are actually offended by them.

          2. That’s not necessarily true. When I was in college, I was an ambulance jockey for a while.

            The stuff we said to each other to keep our spirits up on a tough day didn’t mean we treated grandma badly. We treated her like our own grandmas.

            But when you have to deal with people throwing up in your face, after you just cleaned another puddle of diarrhea out of the rig and dropped off another victim of a stupid drunk driver at the ER, you joke around in ways that could be “offensive” to other people. That’s how you keep yourself sane.

            Being a cop is no different — especially a good cop, and there are good cops out there.

            I’d judge them by their actions, not their jokes.

      2. Oh, and @ John:

        While you probably are correct, “most people” aren’t in the position of enforcing the law and being able to shoot people. There is a distinction.

        1. Cops are people too.

          1. [citation needed]

          2. Yeah, but they’re people with essentially extra-legal super-powers. Which means they get the “strict scrutiny” treatment, as a judge might say.

            1. A judge might say that but he is unlikely to in reference to police conduct. More like “no scrutiny, no responsibility”.

    2. I’ve known cops, squeaky-clean people who wouldn’t hurt anyone by choice, actually, who “vent” like this.

      It was dumb to put some of it in e-mail. However, one doesn’t have to “agree” with everything to fail to be shocked by it.

      I despise the police state. And there are whole PDs that I have very low opinions of. But there are individual cops, and even departments, whom I don’t think fall in the same lousy
      categories as others.

      If we pay some people to deal with the worst jerks and the most dangerous people all day at work, I think we need to expect them to “blow off steam.”

      I differentiate between coping mechanisms and actual police brutality or abuses of power. Both exist. They’re not the same, though.

      1. Shit, I’ve talked about MYSELF like this in private. Nobody gets a pass.

    3. IOW, John agrees with the sentiments in the emails.

  2. To be fair I do see a lot stupid bitches driving at 610 and Yale. They didn’t even do their racism right though, the minority in this part of Houston are whites (majority Hispanic).

    1. And to be fair, anyone who leads the cops on a high speed chase is the definition of a stupid bitch.

      1. That depends. If they were trying to rape her, it might have been her best available option.

        Most cops aren’t trying to do that, though.

    2. For some reason when I saw “stupid bitch at 610 and Yale” I was thinking of New Haven, Connecticut.

      1. I thought of my alma mater and my SAT scores.

          1. Surely GWB meant his/her math subscore.

            1. Right over your head, eh Josh?

  3. Mississippi, I know, but still…

    http://blogs.clarionledger.com…..others.jpg

  4. Don’t worry, this would never happen in Dunphy’s department.

    1. they welcome publication of internal e-mails.

      1. Dunphy ‘liked’ the idea on Facebook.

  5. these emails are the worst they could come up with? meh

    1. Good to know that blatant racism and complete indifference to people being shot and killed from the police is “meh” to you.

    2. Really. Saying a criminal got what he deserved? Objecting to an officer’s affair with a married woman? Referring to the well-established problem of inbreeding in many Muslim societies? I’m supposed to get upset that cops talk like that? What’s the solution, more sensitivity training?

  6. On the one hand, public transparency good.

    On the other hand, we’d never post half the shit-talk we post here if we thought it could be connected to our real names.

    1. On the other hand, we’d never post half the shit-talk we post here if we thought it could be connected to our real names.

      If our ‘shit talk’ related to our judgment, and we had the state recognized authority to exercise life and death decisions over the population, and H&R was funded by taxpayers who also employed us, then by all means it should be connected to our names.

    2. It’s a lot easier to find out who people are online than most people realize. For instance my link goes to my blog which has my name listed on the front page along with my FB profile.

      I wish that more people would be less “anonymous” when posting because it sometimes makes for a more civil and productive conversation. There isn’t anything I write in these comments that I wouldn’t say directly to someone’s face.

      1. I try to be polite, but there’s no way I’d be at ease making political comments here and elsewhere under the same name I use to get freelance work (and dates) in the San Francisco area. There is an astonishing amount of prejudice against anyone who is not a leftist around here.

      2. Tman…you and I have 3 friends in common on FB (one of which is Balko), I alos live in Nashville…heh

      3. It’s a lot easier to find out who people are online than most people realize.

        I few months ago a commenter on here stated something to the effect that nobody on H&R could find out who he really was.

        Just to prove a point I spent about 15 minutes figuring out who he was (despite the fake email address he posted under) and sent a picture of his house to his personal and work email accounts. He actually thanked me and said that he would have to reevaluate the security of his information.

        It should be noted that I’m in no way a hacker or any kind of computer expert, and I found all his information through google, and publicly accessible websites. It was even easier than I thought it would be.

    3. Granted, but we aren’t licensed to arrest/beat/shoot people who disrespect us.

      1. Not all of us.

        Some of us do exercise a good deal of authority. There are some cops (dunphy), military members, doctors, etc.

    4. + most of us aren’t being paid by the taxpayer to say it.

  7. Are you sure those aren’t quotes from Ron Paul’s newsletter? Maybe he didn’t write them, but did he know about them? Shocking.

    1. This clearly isn’t Max. Because I think you meant Ron Pual.

    2. Awww, I haven’t seen max in forever. Such a cute little puppy.

  8. It’s not so much the emails themselves, as it is the terrifying power to torture, maim, imprison and murder is given to a group of people so stupid that they don’t understand the simplest law of the modern age: Email is forever.

    1. Private cops are so much more sensitive and compasionate!

      1. Sockpuppeting a troll banned months ago is pathetic.

        1. What do you expect?

      2. Private cops don’t have qualified or absolute immunity.

        1. When immunity is a commodity, private cops have as muchof it as they can buy.

        2. If a private “cop” breaks into my house unannounced and I shoot him in self defense, I am far less likely to end up like Corey Mayes.

    2. There is my citation SF. Cops are stupid. People are stupid, therefore cops are people.

      The problem isn’t the emails. The problem is that we are giving anyone the kind of power and complete lack of accountability that we are giving cops.

      1. People are a subset of stupid. Cops are a subset of stupid. It does not necessarily follow that cops are a subset of people.

    3. I’ve often thought it would be a fun exercise to take a random federal agency–like MSHA or NOAA–and FOIA for all intra-agency emails that mention “cameltoe” or “douchebag,” and see what the results were.

      1. Interesting experiment. Probably less than you think. I find that people are very careful about email. You have to understand just how stupid and arrogant the average flat foot is. It really is a whole different level compared to even other government employees.

        1. In my many years of corporate-dom, I’ve seen very little bad language or racism via email. Spoken word, however, can unleash some racist jokes and talking like a foreigner/black man. It’s easier to cover your tracks if you don’t email.

          1. To follow up on SugarFree’s point, that’s because we’ve all learned that email is irrefutable evidence of poor behavior. See one guy get fired for inappropriate emails and the lesson sticks.

  9. And more accountable!

  10. In a real free-market society,the smartest, toughest, best-armed cops win, and if you don’t like it, you can go fuck yourself.

    1. Caricature fail. With your qualification “smartest”, this actually sounds like an improvement over the status quo.

      1. That’s because you’re a moron.

        1. As always, your charm is as boundless as your intellect.

  11. Public sector unions discover tor in 3.. 2..

  12. Not Texas, but close. Police Probe Death of Arkansas Man Found in Bathtub With Local TV Weatherman

    Dexter Williams, 24, of Mountain Pine, Ark., was found dead early Monday inside the bathtub — naked and wearing a silver dog collar-style chain around his neck.

    “It’s an embarrassing death. You always have to color it differently in the media.”

    1. best leave it … unsolved

    2. “We were just playing a little game…”

      1. “….we’d done it before.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.